December 2009 Archives

Christmas greetings my friends

"Welcome to my Christmas [blog], I'd like to thank you for the year. So I'm sending you this Christmas card to say it's nice to have you here"

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Well my youth work bretherin and sisterin, I'm signing off for Christmas. I'll actually be on-line very little as I have agreed a laptop sabbatical, this will mean my only access to t'internet will be through a darwinian fight with he rest of the tribe for access to the Desktop. (Scrabble nemesi take note)

I'm looking forward to the break enormously. Spending time with my family, Catching up with friends, time in the shed, Carols at Church, Cycling and watching "Muppets Christmas Carol". I'm loving the fact that it's a genuine full-on Dickensian White Christmas too, Nice!

Thanks for being part of Youthblog this year, I wish you a great Christmas filled with hope, peace and friendship! May your Cracker jokes be funny, your wonder be kindled and your Joy contagious as you celebrate the pivotal moment of all history, Merry Christmas!

christmas_tree_presents_lg_clr.gif "... To teach us humility all this was done,
And learn we from thence haughty pride for to shun:
A manger His cradle Who came from above,
The great God of mercy, of peace and of love.

Aye and therefore be merry, set sorrow aside,
Christ Jesus our Savior was born on this tide."


And for anyone who wants to re-group via Youthblog in 2010, I look forward to bumping into you here from 4th January onwards for the usual malarky, youth work/ministry news and related musing. Shalom

Still Snow Bound

There was lots more snow over night and cars cannot get up the road. I'm trying to work out whether to make the four hour round trip to work by public transport or work from home.

snow 22nd decemberweb.jpg

I'm leaning more towards working from home though as I'm shattered from last night. My eldest boy H was caught up in the chaos after a trip to Basingstoke yesterday afternoon with his special needs group. His carer and him eventually abandoned the car and caught trains back to Newbury. It took me half an hour to walk down to the station at 10:30pm, then nearly an hour to walk/propell/push him back home.

Snowed in

This is what our estate looked like an hour ago ... with the snow still coming down impressively, even now. It's now a no-go area for cars and buses 'cos nothing can get up the hill, It's just slip sliding away!

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Sprout 2


Three years ago I flagged up the rather wonderful sprout game. There is now a sequel that is so utterly juvenile that it will appeal only to 11 year old boys ...... and youth workers *laughing* Enjoy!

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Play here, feel free to post your high score

Full of slog

Musing on my lack of blogging, I came up with a re-rendering of "Time to Stop and Stare" (on the basis if you are going to offer a poor excuse at least deliver it creatively). My apologies to Willam Henry Davies .... and anyone who appreciates good poetry.

What is this life if full of slog
We have no time to stop and blog.

No time to post, and pose the how?
Or why, or if .... or just the now.
No time to blog the thoughts that pass
Or comment when a reader asks.

No time to see if someone's right,
When pointing out our oversights.
No time to click and gently glance,
At other bloggers' circumstance.

A poor life this, if full of slog
With no time left to stop and blog.

The Christmas narrative in Chocolate

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Talking of chocolate (see previous entry), I remembered this talk that legendary youth worker (and now super-curate) Matt Stevens gave a few years back at Yellow Braces.
If you can afford the confectionery bill involved (and can be sufficiently tongue-in-cheek to pull it off) here it is:

A girl called Mary heard a WISPA, from an angel (wearing a HALO) who said that she would be the Mother of Gods son. But how could this be? She was not yet married to Joseph. To have a baby now would be a TOPIC of conversation in the village. Joseph also heard of God's plan, but before the baby arrived, political events overtook them - Joseph had to return to Bethlehem for the census - it was miles away - a MARATHON (Snickers) journey, but Joseph thought the BREAK would do her good. When they arrived, Joseph tried to find lodgings, but CLUB after CLUB let them down - No room they all said. Eventually they were offered a little out house - it was
there that the little baby was born. He was named Jesus, which means Saviour. He was laid in a manger, lined with hay and STRAW (Sherbet straw!) That night, some shepherds, and DRIFTERS, heard TUNES in the sky. Glory to God in the Highest'. The shepherds decided to take a break (KIT- KAT) from looking after the sheep. Lets (GO?) and see what's happening in Bethlehem. When they were there they found the TRIO, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, who was lying in a manger. It was not at all a NICE place; smelly and dirty - not really a fit place for a maternity ward. They were however UNITED in their wonder, they REVELled at the thought that this child was special. Could this be just as the prophets had foretold - was this the LION of Judah? It was getting late, AFTER EIGHT, in fact - so the shepherds returned to the hills - huffing and PUFFIN and singing praise to God as they went. Meanwhile in a far country, some SMARTIES, wise men were busily scanning the GALAXY, when they saw a star near the MILKY WAY. Was it MARS? No it was a special STAR (bar) - signalling the birth of a King. They travelled long and hard and reached Herod's Palace - they were not embarrassed to HOBNOB with royalty. Herod was very interested - "A King has been born?" - He didn't believe them and called theM ALL TEASERS, but just to make sure - he tried to FUDGE the issue by saying that he wanted to go and worship the baby - and told the wise men to report to him on their way back. The wise men travelled until the found Jesus and offered their BOUNTY, GOLD, frankincense, and Myrrh. Then God warned them in a dream that Herod was up to his TWIX again, seeking the child's life. So they took the TIME OUT to return by another route. Now that's the familiar story - the CLASSIC tale, told at Christmas. It has little to do with reindeer and FLAKES of snow and robins and a baby in a clean crib decorated with tinsel. The original story was not that NICE. Jesus was born a refugee, he was a threat, a danger - don't miss the meaning. Jesus was born so that ALLSORTS of people might know God's love for them. Many people are looking for meaning and purpose - some kind of REFRESHER in life - a BOOST in difficult times. The Christmas Story really is cause for CELEBRATION, Jesus is no MINATURE HERO!

bearing gifts

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I put up various Christmas decorations at the office this morning including a little stone nativity set. A colleague asked if the random chocolates near the nativity were a kind of offering. A bit of blue tack later and the Wise mean are bearing gifts of Eclair, Creme egg and Fudge?

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I'm adding this to my list of worship tricks ;-)



A Bumper dose of Christmas Schadenfreude and cuteness with the underlying moral seeming to be, beware of Christmas trees, snow and chairs!

If your having a tough day, randomly dip in to the video below ....

Diocese of Oxford Evangelism Fund

In 2010 it will be The Diocese of Oxford's turn to apply to the Youth Evangelism Fund. This is access to up to £45,000

This fund is specifically "To help young people share their faith with their friends in ways that make sense to them"

Grants are between £200 and £2000 (but £3000 in exceptional circumstances) and need to be applications from young people for inititatives that impact young people.

This is a GREAT opportunity! If you are in the Diocese of Oxford PLEASE ask me for more details and get your group to explore what they would like to do.

Swapping Paint with the H

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It was H's birthday and what he wanted to do more than anything was to Go-Kart. We took part in an open session at Andover* and had a great time on the circuit with eight other people (a couple of blog readers included).

I was really proud of him: Only one spin, good awareness of others, as well as a canny ability to defend his position. My daughter and youngest son shot some video and we then animoto-ed it as a present.

*Full Marks to Andover who were utterly un-fazed by H's disability and provided a great morning

What if Jesus meant all that stuff?

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shane claiborne bookcrop.jpgShane Claiborne has written an open letter in Esquire magazine that they've titled, What if Jesus meant all that stuff? It is a GREAT piece of communication and I want to say that's the Christianity I want to be associated with.

"It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth"

I read Shanes book a few years ago and it inspired and challenged me in equal measure

Arranging meetings is a doodle



I've been slow off the mark here but have just discovered that Doodle is brilliant.

A parish asked me if I could meet with their leaders in January, and then rather brilliantly set up a Doodle poll as a quick and easy way of seeing which date would work the best. Genius!

If you are trying to arrange team meetings this could make your life a whole lot easier

(I realise that some of you will already having been using this for 75 years or so but it's worth mentioning for those, like me, hadn't found it yet)

Useful Links



I've just discovered that Jon Jolly has a vast compendium of links on his blog, I commend this resource to the house.

New Director

It's been quite a year juggling the Youth Adviser role with my 'temporary' responsibilities as 'Dep Sec' charged with the acting co-responsibility for the department in which I serve. But, I can almost have my old life back as we've appointed a new director (Yay!)

In the last 12 months we've had the fun of starting to work with the Bishops' vision of 'Living Faith', re-evaluating our whole structure, working out what we should look like for the future, and then beginning the resultant transition into a Board of Mission which the new Director will be heading up.

MichaelBeasley.jpgOur new Director is the Rev'd Dr Michael Beasley and is currently the Vice Principal and Tutor in Mission at Wescott House. We are delighted he will be joining us.

It'll then be full-steam-ahead working with the new Director to live out and help serve a vision for 'Living Faith' across the Diocese. Hopefully by Easter we'll be fully up and running (although still experimenting) as the Board of Mission with Michael at the healm (once we've unearthed him a desk, we are a BIT tight on space here)

There's more info on Living Faith here but this is the explanatory diagram:

living faith 375 web.jpg

It's not rocket science but it is a helpful reminder of who we are as the church(es) in the Diocese of Oxford, and especially a reminder that without the individual and corporate sustaining of our sacred centre, it's all a bit pointless.

I'm looking forward to May 15th when I've a day with young people here at Church House exploring their perspective on this.

Isn't it though

Good morning! Welcome to Youthblog news, putting the fun, variation and quality in inFormal edcUcatioN, Voluntary pARticIpaTION and eQUAL opportunITY ...... as well as mucking around with words, and generally wittering about youth work and ministry.

But first, the news of stuff around the Diocese:

Vertigo Academy. The next Academy (Discipleship training for young people in Oxfordshire) is happening on Jan 23rd (ahead of the next Vertigo on Feb 13th). Details of the Academy from the St Andrews website.

Vertigo Academy2.jpg

Totally Wired Windsor Baptist Church on the 16th March "An essential seminar for all parents, church leaders, youth leaders and anyone who cares about young people and the technology revolution" TWFlyer.pdf

Youth Forum day: exploring Living Faith May 15th
Yellow Braces Diocesan Camp: July 9th - 11th
Taize trip for 15-30 year olds: 24th July - Aug 3rd

Oh and if anyone didn't get the copy of Youthwork Update via their incumbent: Update nov 2009.pdf

I recently came across this Community Mission web site which I'm flagging up here for myself ..... but you should take a look too!

human hams ball.jpg


I found these Human Hamster Balls that claim to be great for youth groups!

I'd be struggling with the risk assessment on sending a teenager we're responsible for out over a lake in an oxygen-limited rip-able sphere!

(For a bunch of me and my fellow Youth workers however, that's a different story .....
BIG BIG FUN, bring it on!)

Our Church being 'St Nicolas' meant that yesterday was our Patronal festival and thus an all-age combined service shindig. It turned out to be a great occasion with a lovely blend of worship, celebration, community and humour.

The Rector was on great form and the sermon was a vision framing call to faith and action that involved him waving (and regularly activating) an electric drill. I was sat behind the Pathfinder group who were attempting to capture the Pulpit dwelling drill wielder will their mobile phones (I didn't ask for this shot to be blue-toothed to me until after the service, honest).

Driller preacher.jpg

Other highlights included a mahoosive choir singing the Hallelujah chorus magnificently and the worship leader introducing one song as 'the worst Christian chorus ever written!' (and being right despite strong competition from the entire1970's back catalogue!)

A great morning!

Cars must be pushed for the next 200 yds


dismount.jpgPedalling to the gig this afternoon along the cycleways and roads of Berkshire I was reflecting on an oft encountered sign that really winds me up! The offending notice being "Cyclists dismount!"

Forgive me as I descend into a rabid amalgam of Basil Fawlty and Victor Meldrew but really, what is the point of creating a cycle way that you are then asked not to cycle on???

It is blatantly ridiculous, a bit like the footway baring signage indicating that one must crawl rather than walk for the next 100 yards, thus inadvertently (or I guess vertently) insisting that feet must not be used on the footway.

Reflecting (through gritted teeth) today though I have decided to mellow a little in my approach to this. I have now decided I am prepared to accept this absurd requirement, however there is a caveat! I accept it providing that around half a percentage of the road network carries signs insisting that drivers may not drive, but must instead get out and push their cars along the relevant section.

So Minister of Transport, do we have a deal?

Bing's just bling, Chrome however, shines


I'm not exactly an early adopter but for what it's worth I hereby now pledge my browsing allegiance to Google Chrome. I'd flirted briefly with Bing but having discovered that the hyperbole was just propoganda I'd perhaps not been as keen to check out Chrome. It is however, I've discovered ..... brilliant!

Google Chrome is FAST, quick to launch and quick to load web sites. The tab arrangements and rapid access to recent and favourite sites via a thumbnails tab are great. I also like being able to enter a search straight into the address bar (and also by holding 'alt' have that open in a new tab)


In writing this I had to search for Google Chrome with 'Google Chrome!' Thankfully this didn't cause some kind of electronic existential meltdown as I asked it to self reflect and find itself! (I thought this was: a) quite impressive, and b) a relief that I didn't implode the internal logic of the entire internet!)

Oh and if you want to understand how Chrome came to be, this is the impetus and rationale!

Ooh and a veteran hello to anyone who still remembers searching with 'Alta Vista'

Dr Chris!!


brit christmas pepsi.jpgI am busy swotting .... not for an exam in fact but for a Christmas presentation for a horde of year 6's. For reasons that now escape me I am playing the part of "Dr Chris" who is (or will be) a world authority on Christmas. So, I'm busy swotting ready for the event at 1pm today?

I'm supposed to be able to field ANY question that inquisitive year 6's can concoct!! No one has given me the churches policy on the existence or otherwise of Father Christmas, eek!

At least if anyone asks for the theological relevance of Christmas Crackers I've already done that piece of work!

I also now know that Father Christmas wearing red because of Coca Cola is an urban myth. (BTW, for the sake of BBC like impartiality I have included a Pepsi advert into this post too)

Anyway back to my research, I'll blog any obscure questions after the event!

(PS, in case you missed it, I put a load of Christmas resource links here)

Captain's log supplemental: Am blogging live from the event inbetween my two 'sessions' where I have discovered that my German accent becomes French and then heads back to being German. My acting ability: 1 out 0f 7246, doh!

Unicorn tears

milton jones tour 09.jpgHad a great evening on Saturday when regular blog lurker JT took me along to Greenham Arts Centre to catch the Milton Jones Tour.

It was a cracking evening with Milton being well on form. There were none of his brilliantly wry observations about church or christianity but a wealth of new material (I'd only heard him use two of the gags before) including a slide 'show' of a world tour that provided a fabulous vehicle for his surreal observations and links. Fab!

It was also great to catch Chris Stokes who did a great set between 'Milton's Grandad' and Milton himself. Chris delivered a routine of unhurried and relaxed story telling that was a delight to see. He created and exploited comedic observations and encounters without the need to dive for a gag or a punchline, producing a set that was engagingly hilarious.

Talking of comedy, I noticed that Tony Hadoke provides one of the reviews for Chris. I recently listened to "Moths ate my Dr Who scarf" which is an autobiographical account of his life, with his love of Dr Who providing a theme and reference point for a story full of pathos and laughter. Highly highly recommended!

moths ate my doc who scarf.jpg


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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2009 is the previous archive.

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